Autism And The T2201 Guide

Are you thinking of applying for or renewing the Disability Tax Credit Certificate? If so, there is a new version of my Autism and the T2201 Guide released with some significant changes.

The T2201 – Disability Tax Credit Certificate has some major changes with respect to the Mental Functions portion of the form.

I really hate giving the Federal Government praise, but the changes are dramatic and make sense. No longer are narratives to describe the deficit in Mental Functions required and the categories have been expanded into a logical format.

It used to be that I recommended seeing a specialist to complete the form for your child, but with these changes it is now quite appropriate to take it to your family doctor. I still recommend that you go to a practitioner who has a history with your child and if that is a specialist then so be it.

As always, this is a do-it-yourself project. No accountants, lawyers, or so-called Disability Agencies are required.

Indigenous Support For Autism

The Indigenous Community has some very high barriers to accessing services and support for children with Developmental Delays. These can include:

  • Remote living
  • Lack of access to specialized health care
  • Cultural barriers
  • Racism
  • Inter-generational trauma
  • Specialized services tend to be concentrated in urban areas

It has been rightly pointed out to me that my website is lacking in resources for the Indigenous Community. I will go through some options that Indigenous persons have with respect to obtaining funds and service for children with developmental delays, but what we really need are some real-world experiences. Please comment below this article with your thoughts.

The British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS) has more resources than I can mention in this article. I do understand the reluctance of some people to contact a government run or funded society. In this case, BCANDS is an Indigenous run and governed society. They offer assistance with PWD benefits, the Disability Tax Credit, and RDSP awareness.

Jordans Principle is not so much a program as it is a legal requirement to make services available to all other children also available to First Nations. The history behind Jordan’s Principle is complex but the basic principle is that First Nations children must have an equal chance to thrive as other children in Canada. This is examined by looking at Substantive Equality which means giving extra help when it is needed.

The First Nations people may understandably not trust the government to access services and funding. I recommend  The Assembly of First Nations – Guide to Jordan’s Principle. It will explain the process and has a list of the local community coordinators.

For children with autism or suspected autism, services can include Psycho-educational assessments, tutoring services, assistive technologies, and respite. Specialized ABA therapies may not exist in First Nations communities but with funding from Jordan’s Principle, services can be established. Behaviour Interventionists can receive initial training from AutismBC’s BI Online Workshops, ABA principles can be learned from The Autism Support Network – Video Series, and Behaviour Analyst services can be accessed via zoom. The tools exist for determined parents to access funding and set up an ABA program in a culturally appropriate setting.

Aboriginal Supported Child Care is a program which exists to enable children who require extra support to be included in childcare, preschool, and community care settings. This program ensures that culturally appropriate support is offered to First Nations families.

No doubt important services were overlooked in this post. Please let us know in the comments if you know of more resources that Indigenous, Metis and Inuit communities can use.

Do You Still Need An Autism Diagnosis?

Anecdotally, I hear that some families are no longer pursuing an autism diagnosis for their child. On the surface, this makes sense. MCFD is phasing out individualized funding and the new hubs will be doling out services based on need rather than diagnosis.

I would urge these families to reconsider

Firstly, have you noticed that there is a great deal of push back to this half-baked plan? I won’t go into all the reasons why cancelling individualized funding is a stupid move, however a logical person would hope the NDP come to their senses and rewrite this plan. “It ain’t over till it’s over”.

If you had a child with cancer, would you bypass a diagnosis and let a social worker decide what your child needs? Of course not! So why would you do the same for autism?

Do does your child need medication? Do you think a GP is going to hand out high powered meds without a diagnosis?

To get appropriate behavioural therapy for your child you will need a board-certified Behaviour Analyst to direct the program. Does anybody want to take a guess if they will need a proper diagnosis?

Do you have any plans to apply for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC)? If not, you should. The DTC acts as a gateway to everything the federal government offers including:

  • The Child Disability Benefit
  • Enhanced Medical Expenses
  • Enhanced Child Care Expense
  • Home Buyers Amount
  • Home Accessibility Benefit
  • The Canada Caregiver Amount and
  • The Registered Disability Savings Plan

It is true that strictly speaking, you do not need a diagnosis to apply for the DTC but trust me when I say that having one will greatly increase your chances.

Mitzi Dean, Minister of MCFD doesn’t care about your child. That much is abundantly clear. That doesn’t mean however that you should give up. Your child’s future is dependent on an accurate diagnosis.

The End of Autism Funding

The long-feared announcement by the MCFD Minister Mitzi Dean has been made. Individualized autism funding will become a thing of the past by 2025.

Is this a good thing?

It could be if the BC government provides a massive increase in funding. However, I’m too old and cynical (or perhaps realistic) to believe that the government is going to get it right. Honestly, the writing has been on the wall for a long time. When was the last time your autism funding received an inflation increase?

Funding for our kids will now be divided amongst all disabilities. For example, a child with Down’s syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) may very well see an increase in funding and that is a good thing. A child with autism will more than likely see a decrease in funding. Given that autism funding was intended for evidence-based treatment, the inevitable result will be poor outcomes which are going to cost society in the end.

One thing is abundantly clear and that is that individualized funding is going away. The government will choose the services and level of support on behalf of your child. For some marginalized families who have difficulty obtaining services this is a huge plus. For families who know how to navigate the system and obtain the services their child needs, this is going to be a huge blow.

The new system sounds great in theory, but if the experience in Ontario is anything to go by, there is trouble on the horizon. Ontario moved to a “needs based” approach a few years ago and it was nothing short of disaster. The result was a massive increase in waitlists and less choice for families. How ironic that BC is following the lead of the Ford government.

Some points that greatly concern me are:

  • The complete lack of consultation with autism groups
  • Less choice for families
  • Fewer hours of therapy available
  • Who will decide the needs of the child? What will be the qualifications of Case Managers?
  • Union wages and accompanying benefits for Interventionists leaving less funds available
  • The possibility that home based therapy may be a thing of the past
  • Will the “needs based” approach allow for Behaviour Consultants to work with the school districts?
  • The possibility of many highly skilled Behaviour Consultants leaving the province if they are not well accommodated in the new system

During the news conference announcing the new system, Minister Mitzi Dean evaded questions relating to funding. This leads me to believe that there will be no real increase although they will tinker around the edges to give the appearance of increases.

For a more in depth look at what is wrong with the plan, The Autism Support Network has put together an excellent briefing.

Previous generations of families fought tooth and nail to get autism funding. You have been warned of the dangers. What are you going to do to fight this? Now is the time to show the government what the new generation of families are capable of.

2020 Tax Checklist

Too many tax credits and deductions to remember? Are you afraid you might let a tax slip slip? Do you want to maximize your tax refund?

The 2020 Tax Checklist is for you.

Of course, if you are concerned the government does not have enough corporate jets, then by all means skip this checklist. I’m sure they would greatly appreciate your charity.

If you file your own taxes, this checklist will ensure you don’t miss some tax benefits.

If an accountant or tax preparer completes your taxes, complete this form and tell them what you want claimed.

This checklist is intended for families with minor children with autism who may or may not qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). If you want help claiming business costs relating to your foreign mining exploration in Botswana, I am afraid you will have to look elsewhere.

Autism and the T2201 Guide

Are you applying for the Disability Tax Credit for the first time or renewing eligibility? Do you find the procedures and guidelines confusing? If so, the Autism and the T2201 Guide is for you.

The guide book has been updated for 2021 with some important improvements:

  • Information about the excellent Disability Tax Credit App brought to you by the good people at Access RDSP.
  • Clarification regarding the parent designated to accept the disability transfer from a dependent.

As always information on this website is free! Compare that to the so called “Disability Agencies” which are happy to charge a fortune for something you can do yourself. If you think you need the help of these “experts”, you should first read what the Big Canjun Man thinks about them.

My 2020 RDSP Report Card

The rate of return for my son’s Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) for 2020 was 11.9%. The average annual return since 2013 was 8%.

Why should you care?

My aim is to show that someone with minimal investment skills can set up a Couch Potato investment plan and reap the rewards.

Once a year, I deposit my contribution. Two months later, the government adds their contribution. I then re-balance the account to match the TD Couch Potato portfolio which takes all of 10 minutes. At that point, I ignore the account for the next year.

My account is with TD Direct Investing which is one of the few that offers investments of your choice. Other banks may restrict you to their in-house investments which may not be a great deal.

In my case, I use the TD E-funds which have relatively low MERs and I strictly follow the Canadian Couch Potato TD balanced portfolio.

A Significant Change To The RDSP

The number one question I get is, “What happens to my Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) if the beneficiary loses the Disability Tax Credit (DTC)?”

For years I did not have a good answer. The account could be frozen for a short period of time but eventually would be closed with the grants and bonds returned to the government.

Now I have a good answer. With effect from Jan 1, 2021 if the beneficiary loses DTC eligibility, the RDSP account will be frozen. No new grants or bonds will be added to the account, but it will not be closed. If the individual regains DTC eligibility, the contributions along with grants and bonds may continue.

What happens if the individual never regains DTC eligibility?

The easy answer: Leave the account alone until the individual turns 60 and then withdraw funds in the same manner as other RDSPs.

The slightly more complicated answer: There is a ten year holdback for all RDSP accounts. This means any withdrawals will involve a clawback of grants and bonds contributed by the government in the past ten years. This reinforced the notion of the RDSP as a long term savings plan.

The loss of DTC eligibility now means that the ten year window now becomes a rolling time period which does not decrease until age 50 when it will decrease by one year until decreasing to zero at age 60.

Once again this means the RDSP is a long term savings plan with very little use in the short to medium term.

What happens if the individual regains DTC eligibility?

The account becomes active. Grants and bonds may be added as before. If the new DTC eligibility includes the period that the account was inactive, grants and bonds will be available for that period.

As with all RDSP accounts the government will send you a “Statement of Grant Entitlement” which you may use to optimize your contributions. RDSP bonds will be automatically added for the inactive period.

This is a great amendment to the RDSP and the government should be applauded for a positive change for those individuals affected by intermittent DTC eligibility.

For more detailed information please visit a good friend of the Autism Community – Big Cajun Man at the Canadian Personal Finance Blog or brought to you by the Plan Institute who were the drivers behind the RDSP development.

AutismBC Awards

The following is a guest post from AutismBC. There is one week left to purchase your raffle tickets for this worthy cause and possibly win a new car!

Nominations and raffle ticket sales for the 3rd Annual BC Autism
Awards are now open!

The 2020 BC Autism Awards presented by Applewood Auto Group celebrates the people, organizations & businesses that are changing the narrative on autism and inclusion in BC. AutismBC is inviting you and people all over British Columbia to nominate #everydayautismheroes to inspire and encourage others at Winners receive $1,000 to support a project that embraces the spirit of inclusion. Deadline is August 28th, 2020.

Awards will be presented in the following categories:

Volunteer of the year: awarded to a volunteer whose work has positively influenced the autism community.
Self-Advocate of the Year: awarded to an autistic who has advanced the well-being of other autistic people.
Inclusive Employer of the Year: awarded to an organization or company that has demonstrated inclusive practices and support for individuals on the autism spectrum.
Regional Community Impact Award: awarded to an individual, program or community group that has demonstrated a commitment to creating inclusive communities by championing opportunities for community members on the autism spectrum. Awards presented in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Interior and Northern BC. (1 award per region)

Covid-19 has especially shown us how important it is to step up to support our community. You can also support AutismBC with the online purchase of a raffle ticket for a chance to win great prizes including a Nissan Kicks SV courtesy of Applewood Auto Group! (You do not need to nominate to enter) Tickets are just $20.
There are also 50/50 tickets available starting from $10. Proceeds go towards autism initiatives throughout the province. Purchase tickets at

Funds raised will go towards autism initiatives throughout British Columbia. Learn more at

COVID-19 Special

This COVID update has been slow in coming. I wanted to do something other than tell you to wash your hands. Sadly, there is little to report.  MCFD as usual continues to underwhelm us.

They have refused to let the AFU funds transition to the next funding year except in limited cases . It is frustrating to lose out on therapy for your child because you cannot get a Consultant or BI to come into your home.

They have allowed the material funds to go as high as 35% of your annual funds. The deadline of 30 June 2020 for this allowance is quickly approaching.

Autism Funding may now be used for family counselling .

MCFD has some emergency funding available but good luck contacting your social worker.

What should you do if you are just starting out and are not yet receiving autism funds?

The wait time for Sunnyhill is increasing by the day. The latest estimate is 65 weeks from the BCANN website. Your actual wait will be much longer as the COVID-19 restrictions continue to add to the backlog.

I would strongly suggest booking a private assessment. The cost of waiting for a public assessment may be huge in terms of loss of time critical therapy and lost autism funding (i.e. no assessment – no autism funding). Please check with other families in your community or Facebook groups for the best practitioners in your area. The Autism Support Network has a superb Parent Facebook group where you can ask these and many other questions.

AutismBC has a webinar “Waiting for Assessment” which has tons of great information. The cost is free! Sign up as a new member (this is also free!) to get notified of upcoming events.

The Autism Support Network has some outstanding YouTube videos  which are a must view for families with a new diagnosis.

What should you do if you are in receipt of autism funds?

Spend as much as you can on materials if you are unable to spend your funds on therapy due to COVID-19. The Autism Funding Program will allow you to purchase a computer or iPad once every 3 years. For detailed insight into what you may purchase using Autism Funding, consider joining the excellent AFU Families Facebook group.

Some of our kids respond well to online schooling and therapy sessions and others not so much. If your child is high needs and requires in-person sessions the Autism Support Network has some guidelines to follow. For a more comprehensive guide to ABA sessions during the current pandemic, refer to the BC-ABA resources page.

Does your child qualify for the Disability Tax Credit?

If so, the federal government will be sending you an extra $600 . When will it arrive? Who knows, but we will be happy to receive it when it does come.

If your child does not qualify for the DTC, now is a good time as ever to get started on the process. Consult my file Autism and the T2201 for a detailed look at how to get started.

My 2019 RDSP Report Card

Last year, my son’s Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) had a rate of return of 14.4%.

Is that a fluke?

No, not really. In fact it’s in line with the industry benchmark. My portfolio is based on the Canadian Couch Potato TD e-Series model portfolio . Last year, the model portfolio returned 14.8%.

It’s important to look at the long term picture. We opened the RDSP in 2013. The rate of return from then to the end of 2019 is 7.2%.

And we care because……?

I have talked with too many parents who think investing in an RDSP is complicated and a professional is needed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone can manage RDSP investments without paying for a financial advisor or having any investment knowledge. All you have to do is setup a low cost portfolio (such as the one linked above), add money every year, let the government add the grants and bonds and in the long run, you will be well ahead of those who pay too much for financial advice.

Combine Your Child Care Expenses

Did you know you may combine all the allowable child care expenses for your family and use them for only one child?

Neither did I! I cannot believe that in all the years of giving tax advice, I did not know this.

Let’s walk through an example:

Your family has 3 children: Robert 15, Adrian 13 and Deborah age 11. Deborah also qualifies for the Disability Tax Credit. The family limit for Child Care Expenses is $21,000 ($5,000 + $5,000 + $11,000). Visit for a detailed breakdown of what each child may claim.

Robert and Adrian hang with friends after school and do not need child care. Deborah has very high needs and must be supervised at all times. In this case, the family may claim up to $21,000 annually for Deborah’s child care.

Child Care Expenses are a tax deduction rather than a tax credit, so this is potentially more valuable to the family in question. Please read my page Child Care Expenses for more information.

Many thanks to Jamie Golombek of the Financial Post for bringing this to our attention.

Ontario – How Bad Is It?

I dare you to read the following article and not get mad.

This article was written about an upper middle class family. Imagine a single parent household with two or more kids on the autism spectrum.

File A Tax Return For Your Teenager

Your teenager earns nothing so logically you do not need to file a tax return. Right? Not so fast.

We discussed in previous posts why the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) is the best way to save for your child’s future. The key element to the plan is the government grants and bonds (free money!) which is added to the account. The amount added is dependent on the family income.

If the beneficiary of the RDSP is over the age of 18, the “family net income” used to calculate the government grants/bonds is that of the beneficiary and his/her spouse. The income that will determine the grant and bond is based on the income tax return from the second preceding year. (Example: Contribution made in 2019 – net income based on the 2017 tax year.)

In other words, to ensure your child receives the maximum entitled grant and bond, file a tax return when he/she turns 17 (even though the income may be low or even non-existent) so that the grant and bond will be based on his/her low income status.

My 2018 RDSP Report Card

Last year, my son’s Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) had a rate of return of -2.2%.

Is that bad?

No, not really. In fact it’s in line with the industry benchmark. My portfolio is based on the Canadian Couch Potato TD e-Series model portfolio . Last year, the model portfolio returned -2.1%.

It’s important to look at the long term picture. We opened the RDSP in 2013. The rate of return from then to the end of 2018 is 5.5%.

And we care because……?

The point is that anyone can manage RDSP investments without paying for a financial advisor or having any investment knowledge. All you have to do is setup a low cost portfolio (such as the one linked above), add money every year, let the government add the grants and bonds and in the long run, you will be well ahead of those who pay too much for financial advice.

10 Years On

Ten years ago, I created a simple website to share my experience with other parents.  I had one aim; show you how the heck to pay for autism therapy without sounding like a bureaucrat.

Nobody else wants to make this easy for you.  We have governments, school districts and bureaucrats who continually create more paperwork and barriers for you, the parent on the front line.

No my child doesn't look

What has changed?

We now have a website!!!  The AFU now has an online portal.  Yippee!

What hasn’t changed?

The money.  We had one minor increase in BC autism funding in 2010. Meanwhile the government is content to ignore inflation and minimum wage increases each year, leaving our children with a smaller piece of the pie. The good people at AutismBC did some research and found the $6,000 funding from 2002 would now need to be $8,017 to address inflation.  The $20,000 funding from 2002 needs to be $29,400 (rather than the current $22,000) to keep pace with inflation.

It doesn’t seem to matter which party is in power in Victoria.  They feel our pain and show their outrage while in opposition and then do nothing when they are in power.

Has anything good happened?

The heartless Harper government gave us the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) which is seriously the best thing that has ever happened for your child’s financial future. If you don’t have one, please check it out at the earliest possible opportunity. If you don’t have anything in your bank account, don’t worry as the government wants to give you free money.

Meanwhile, the caring Trudeau government is sitting on a policy resolution passed two years ago by their own party members to include science based treatment under Medicare. The resolution can be read here.  Please contact your Federal Member of Parliament and ask why this resolution is being ignored.

What is happening at

The site has gone through 2 major redesigns, an online comment section has been added and the site is now friendly for handheld devices. Meanwhile I continue to receive many emails from parents telling me about their experiences.  I can’t begin to tell you how much this is appreciated as I use all the information to refine the website and keep it relevant for parents new to the world of autism.

Thank you for your continued support.  May the next ten years show more progress than the past decade.


Leisure Access Program

The Leisure Access Program (LAP) has been around in various forms for a while now.  It is designed to allow low income families to access recreation programs at a reduced cost. The program is administered by your local city government and the rules and application procedures vary from district to district.

The City of Vancouver Leisure Access Program has taken a step forward by now allowing the entire family with a disabled child (up to the age of 17) to qualify for the LAP regardless of income. Hopefully other municipalities will follow Vancouver’s lead and open their programs to children with disabilities.

With summer quickly approaching, now would be a great time to contact your local recreation department and find out what is available in your area.

If you know of other districts that allow access to this program to kids with disabilities, could you please let us know in the comment section.

Autism Funding In BC Has A New Look

ASD Funding has undergone it’s third major renovation. The look is fresh but the primary difference is the usability on tablets and phones. I’ve also gone through each page and updated the information and links that have changed over the past year. I sincerely hope my friends at the Autism Support Network don’t change their name again!

I hope you  enjoy the  new look. Please let me know if see anything out of place.

Notice of Determination on Disability Tax Credit

About three weeks ago we mailed in (via certified mail, so we got a tracking ID for the envelope we sent to the CRA) our re-application for the disability tax credit (DTC) for my son. We were not really sure how long it was going to take, however, yesterday we received the response about our…

Source: Notice of Determination on Disability Tax Credit

Autism and Divorce – The Ugly Truth

It is commonly said that 75% of marriages that have a child with autism will end in divorce. This may or may not be true but according to Mrs. Drysdale, the other 25% are simply waiting for the right moment.

I’m not pretending to be an expert in matters of marital separation as I have not been fortunate enough to go through such an ordeal. I found researching this post to be extraordinarily difficult as the rules are vague and can easily vary based on separation agreements and court rulings. The bottom line is that if you can work together to come up with a plan you will be much better off.

An autism diagnosis and a divorce are two of the most devastating financial events that can occur to a family. With some advance planning and cooperation from the two parents, the financial implications can be minimized.

There is an excellent article in the Financial Post about how to save money in a divorce. It is a short read, but very worthwhile.

The new Family Law Act came into effect last year and many of the terms you may be familiar with have changed. The Legal Services Society has a guide to the new act which you can find here.

This brief introduction to the financial arrangements of divorce and separation is no substitute for professional advice which I strongly recommend that you seek.

The broad tax implications

For divorces (and separations longer than 90 days) after April 1997 any child support payments are not deductible by the payer and don’t have to be claimed as income by the recipient. Spousal support payments on the other hand can be claimed as a deduction by the payer and must be claimed as income by the recipient.

To identify if a payment is child or spousal support, you must look to the court order or written agreement. Any payments which are not specifically designated for the sole support of the former spouse are to be considered child support.

In order to claim a spousal support deduction, the payer must first pay all of the child support payments. Any arrears in child support payments are added to the next year’s support payments and again these must be paid before any spousal support is claimed.

Taxation of payments to third parties

Examples of payments to third parties include property tax and insurance. It is important to structure these payments properly so as to minimize taxation. In order to deduct such payments, three conditions must be met:

  • There is an agreement or order specifying that these payments are to be made for the benefit of the recipient spouse.
  • The payer and recipient are living apart.
  • The written agreement or court order specifies that the payer may deduct these payments and the recipient will claim them as income.

When to notify CRA of the marital status change?

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) must be notified in the month following the change of marital status. If you are separated, CRA must be notified after 90 continuous days of separation. You can use the form RC65 to notify CRA.

Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB)

The CCTB will be recalculated based on the new family income and will be adjusted in the month following the marital breakup. The person who resides with the child and is responsible for his/her upbringing is the one who will receive the CCTB.

It’s important to remember that the CCTB is based on family income. After the breakup of a marriage it may be advantageous for the lower income person to receive the CCTB so as to maximize the monthly cheque. A well-crafted separation agreement or order or judgment should take this into account and designate the lower income parent to be the one to claim for the CCTB.

In a shared custody arrangement if the parents:

  • live in separate locations;
  • live with the child on an equal or near-equal basis; and
  • are primarily responsible for the child’s care and upbringing when living with the child.

then the CCTB will be apportioned on a 50/50 basis.

Remember that you must continue to file an income tax return every year in order to receive the CCTB even if you have no income.

Eligible Dependent Claim

You can claim the Amount for an Eligible Dependent (AED – also known as the “single parent exemption”) if you didn’t have a spouse or common-law partner living with you and you supported a dependent and you lived in the same home as the dependent. If a parent pays child support they become ineligible for the AED. Once again a properly written agreement will specify who may claim for this amount.

Only one person can claim for an eligible dependent. If you have shared custody and both make support payments for the dependent, only one person may claim for an eligible dependent. If you can’t agree who is to make this claim, then no one can claim it.

Child Care Expenses

Both separated parents can now claim child care expenses (assuming there is no other supporting person) up to the limit for that child ($10,000 if the child qualifies for the Disability Tax Credit). However there are some caveats:

  • The expenses must be for the period that the parent has custody of the child
  • That parent must pay the expenses
  • It still must be for the purposes of:
    • Earning employment income
    • Going to school
    • Running a business
  • If both parents use the same child care provider, they must pay separately and obtain receipts to reflect the period that they had custody.

If there is a separation and subsequent reconciliation, Form T778 Child Care Expenses Deduction will guide you through the amount you can claim.

Medical Expenses

Either party may continue to claim for medical expenses provided they made the payments for a supported person. The big difference is that while married or common-law couples can pool their medical expenses to lower the tax payable, divorced or separated parents must make individual claims.

Where possible, the family’s medical expenses should be claimed by the parent with the lower income in order to maximize the medical expense tax credit.

Tax Credits and Deductions

It should be specified in the separation agreement which parent will be claiming the available credits and deductions.

BC Autism Funding

There should be no great change as this amount is not taxable. As before, only one parent may be in charge of the funds from the AFU and this is unlikely to change after a separation or divorce.

Fitness and Arts Tax Credit

Each parent can claim the fitness amount and arts amount. However, the claims cannot be for the same expenditures and the combined claim per child for each program cannot exceed the $500 limitation.

Who gets the extra $500 for a disabled child? Either parent can claim this amount as long as another person has not already claimed the same fees.

Legal Fees

You can’t deduct legal fees used to obtain a divorce, establish or contest child custody, or to divide property.

Legal fees that are deductible include:

  • To obtain child or spousal support
  • Legal fees used to collect salary or wages
  • Fees to try to make child support payments non-taxable

Personal Residence Exemption

Prior to a marital separation, only one residence per family could be used for the “Principal Residence Exemption”. This is used to exempt the property from any capital gains tax during the years that it is designated as a principal residence. Following the separation, each parent is now entitled to their own “Principal Residence Exemption” but only after:

  • One year of living apart and
  • They are separated pursuant to a judicial order or written separation agreement

A significant delay to a separation could involve a nasty tax surprise for a separated couple who each own a primary residence.

Separation Agreement

This has been a far from comprehensive guide to divorce involving a child with autism. The key point to everything written above is that you must have a clear, well written separation agreement. It should designate which parent is entitled to the child tax credits and deductions available under the Income Tax Act. This can amount to a substantial amount of money and should certainly be considered when calculating child and parental support payments.

Emotions typically run very high during this period, but it is critical to remember that a well-crafted agreement will go a long way to relieving heartache and legal bills down the road. Cooperation, not confrontation will ultimately lead to a better financial outcome for all parties.

I have always encouraged parents of children with autism to be masters of their own financial domain. Dealing with the Autism Funds Unit, applying for tax credits and deductions and managing their child’s therapy is certainly within the grasp of most people. Divorce is a different beast altogether and good professional advice is essential. At the very least, you should have a reputable lawyer draft the separation agreement. In very complicated cases you may need to enlist the services of an accountant.

I would strongly encourage any of you to share your personal experiences and tips in the comment section below.

The ONE Thing You Must Do

Join a parent support group. No really! You thought I was going to write about the AFU, taxes or some such thing didn’t you?

The benefits of joining a local parent support group are numerous and yes, financially beneficial.

Firstly, support groups will understand what you are going through better than any of your extended family. Only someone who has been there will understand the stresses that you are experiencing. As a guy, it pains me greatly to admit that sometimes it helps to talk about it.

OK, what about the money? You can learn many things from other parents in your community. Things such as:

  • Who are the good Behaviour Consultants in your town
  • Who is going to rip you off
  • What does the local Child Development Centre offer (this one varies dramatically across the regions)
  • What schools are supportive of ASD kids
  • What kind of school aides you can expect
  • What BI’s are good and available (yes parents do share this information)

Additionally if parents share the same Behaviour Consultant and live nearby, they can potentially save on travel costs.

I have benefited greatly over the years with the support offered by other parents in my community. My child has excellent aides some of whom we never would have found if not for the connections in our town.

OK then, which support group should you join? There are quite a few out there and I wouldn’t presume to know all of them. You should however vet the groups so their philosophy matches your own. Some are dedicated to Bio-medical treatments only while others are geared to more evidence based treatments such as ABA Therapy.

Two groups to check out are the Autism Society of BC or the ABA Support Network to see if they have a support group in your community. If there are no groups available, this is your opportunity to give back to the community by starting one.  Contact either of the before mentioned organizations for assistance in setting one up.


Pub Night for an “AU-SOME” Cause

The second annual ABA Support Network Pub Night for an “AU-SOME” Cause is coming up on March 1.  Last year’s event was a great time and some people walked away with incredible bargains from the silent auction, door prizes, games and raffles.  This year there will be even more items to bid on including:

  • Beer and wine (all good stuff)
  • iPad mini
  • Photography booth and art packages
  • Restaurant and casino gift certificates
  • and many more items

The same incredible band will be back for this year’s event.  If you want a fun evening and a chance to connect with some amazing people, this is an evening for you.

Hope to see you there!  Buy your tickets online here

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You are invited to attend:

Pub Night for an “AU-SOME” Cause


Saturday, March 1, 2014 from 7:00 PM10:00 PM

The ABA Support Network is a non-profit organization that provides autism education, information and parent support.

We are proud to be holding our 2nd annual Pub Night for an “AU-SOME”Cause at the award winning Central City Brewing Co!

This evening promises to bring together a fantastic group of parents and supporters in the autism community for an evening of fabulous food, award winning beer and good times!

There will be a silent auction, souvenir photos, door prizes, raffle draws, and more!

$28 ticket includes a selection of fabulous appetizers, plus a pint of award winning craft beer, highball or glass of wine.

If you have a business that is interested in donating an item for the silent auction, please contact Dione at or at 604-817-1526.  Your generosity will be recognized at the event and on our website.

Central City Brewing Co Ltd

13450 102 Avenue

Surrey, BC V3T 5X3

Special Presentation – What Can My AFU Funds Do?

The ABA Support Network is hosting a presentation that is very relevant to those us managing an ABA program using only the $22,000 or $6,000 available from the AFU. 

It’s a challenging proposition and we are lucky to have some very respected Behaviour Consultants donate their time and energy to help us understand how to manage our programs under very limited budgets.

The following is from the ABA Support Network website:

Special Presentation – based on feedback from many parents, we are going to talk about the challenges of running quality treatment programs with limited funding from the government.  What do families do that don’t have money over and above the $22,000 or $6,000 per year?
Topic:                 What Can My AFU Funds Do?
When:                 Tuesday Feb, 11  7-9pm
Where:                Surrey Sport and Leisure Center, Arena Side Upstairs Meeting Room
(16555 Fraser Hwy, Surrey, BC V4N 0E9)

At this presentation, you will hear from a panel of BCBAs, and their experience with what you can expect from both over-6 and under-6 funding from the Ministry.  Topics to be discussed include:
1.  Quality vs. Quantity — sample ABA programs of different funding models.
2.  Home vs. school — how to ensure that your child is receiving the best support and supervision with the funds you have available to you.
3.  Collaboration — other resources which can be used to help pay for collaboration with other professionals, such as SLP and OT.
4.  Goal setting — what to consider when setting goals with your consultant.
5.  The ethical perspective of your BCBA — ethical considerations for your BCBA providing consultation on a limited budget.
6.  Tips and troubleshooting  — ideas to help use the funding creatively and maintaining a great team.
We will also end with a Q & A, and invite parents to share their feedback.
please rsvp to

NY Times – Building Networks for a “Good Life”

The link below takes you to a New York Times article highlighting the excellent work of the Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN).

It includes coverage of their ground breaking social networks, as well as the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). If you are concerned about the future of your child, this article is a must read.

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